Philly area’s transit system halts papal pass sales

Associated Press

Philadelphia — Overwhelming customer demand has forced the Philadelphia area’s transit system to halt the sale of special rail passes to be used during Pope Francis’ September visit to the city.

Andrew Busch, a spokesman for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, said the number of customers buying tickets online was significantly higher than expected when tickets went on sale online Monday morning. Many users received error messages or were unable to load pages. Busch said that just minutes after the launch, visitors to the site had loaded up more than 64,000 “shopping carts” that contained more than 250,000 tickets overall.

Busch said technicians are working on the problem and SEPTA is expected to announce Tuesday when ticket sales will resume. He said the majority of the transactions attempted Monday were not completed, which means most of the passes will still be available when sales resume.

The Port Authority Transit Corporation, which runs trains from stops in southern New Jersey to downtown Philadelphia, also started selling special Freedom cards online and at the Broadway station in Camden, New Jersey. PATCO passengers who don’t have them won’t be permitted on the trains on Sept. 26-27.

A one-day pass costs $5 and a two-day pass is $10 for those 5 and older. There is a limit of 10 cards per purchase.

Passengers may use their regular Freedom cards during the pope’s visit and pay $2.50 for each ride.